Thursday, January 31, 2019

Monarch Butterfly

A good news story about the eastern Monarch butterfly population:


Monday, January 28, 2019

Growing An Economy

An economy is based on trade. We go to the marketplace, either in person or digitally, and buy the goods (cabbages, shoes, DVDs, meat) we need. We also enter the market place to purchase services such as healthcare and education.
This market place is where we purchase accommodation either through a rental agreement or a purchase and mortgage plan. There are other possible combinations such as cooperative housing but generally people either rent or buy for themselves and their family.
We pay for the purchase with either cash or credit. We earn the cash by exchanging our labour in one of the enterprises in the market place for it.
Now, if we pause to give some careful consideration as to where we shop, by that I mean at which enterprises we make our purchases, we can make some choices and it is those choices that assist us to build local economies.
The demand for locally produced goods such as witnessed in the local food movements, when combined with rising transportation costs and environmental concerns, encourages the movement of the production facility closer to the marketplace.
Money spent in the local economy recirculates and is spent again, enriching a community with another cycle of buying and selling. This is the “multiplier effect.”
This process is referred to as relocalizing the economy. A relocalized economy may involve: reduced consumption, locally produced energy and goods, living wages, and environmental restoration.
The consumer's choices you make can shorten the distance between producers and consumers and make the connections between the two more direct. This local economic activity becomes a benefit to the local community.
I have been reading an excellent book by Vandana Shiva, Soil Not Oil: Environmental Justice in an Age of Climate Crisis (South End Press, 2008), the following quote points out a way that we can grow strong local economies.

"As the fossil fuel economy has grown, it has substituted energy for humans. On the one hand, this has rendered humans redundant to the economic enterprise of production. It has created the crisis of poverty and unemployment, of dispensability and disposability. On the other hand, it has led to the problem of carbon pollution. Whereas humans are sustained by renewable carbon embodied in plants and biomass, industrial energy consumes fossil fuel, adding more CO2 to the atmosphere than the planet can recycle.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Pollinators: a Short, short, short tale.

The hot wind gently shook the flowers. The weather had been dry and exceptionally warm for the past week.  We saw a lone bee buzzing around one sunflower. This was a surprise because we knew that bees and other pollinators were experiencing a major die off. A die-off that was so serious, people were beginning to worry about their food supply.

Shortages were already being noticed in stores, blueberries, almonds and many other normal food items had risen in price and in danger of becoming luxury items.

This lone bee on a single flower sparked hope.  More would come.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Backyard Food Forest

Have you begun to feel that the time you spend watering and cutting your lawn is a waste and probably doing more harm than good?  Do you want to move away from a synthetic chemical assault on the lawn simply keep that lawn green and golf course ready? The synthetic compounds kill much more than pests and diseases.
Perhaps, you no longer want to eat food that has travelled a long distance to get to the table. A taste for freshness has taken hold. Perhaps both appeal to you and if you have answered yes to one or both then it could be time to turn your yard into a food forest garden.
If you do undergo the transformation, you will be no longer be using your time and energy to maintain an unnatural ecosystem- the lawn- which gives you little in return for your efforts.
Instead, you will be investing that time, energy and dollars in an ecosystem that provides you and your family with fresh right off the vine, produce all the while, creating a backyard habitat that will attract, butterflies, bees and birds.
The backyard food forest meets not only you and your family’s needs but provides food and shelter for butterflies and songbirds, for example.
The inclusion of native plants and others, such as herbs, berries and fruit trees, in the backyard forest garden will form the layers of your backyard forest.
Your lawn wants to become a forest; it wants to follow Nature’s way and eventually become a forest but the constant maintenance that a lawn requires prevents this natural progression from taking place and creates considerable work for the homeowner.
As you move away from the lawn; from an unnatural and stalled ecosystem that wants to evolve but is constantly thwarted in its desire, you move from wasting your resources to investing them and stop using resources poorly and begin to invest so that one day you can reap the rewards of your work as you harvest, fruit, berries, herbs and vegetables fresh from you own backyard.
The role of the gardener is not to stall ecosystems and combat natural growth but to work with that desire and need to grow and guide the progress so that it meets the needs of all beings.
This way balance is maintained and the garden becomes a place of mediation between Nature and Civilization rather than a war zone.
You can start small. There is no need to overturn your whole backyard into a forest garden the first time around, select a sunny corner and work with dwarf fruit trees for example.

If you are interested in converting your backyard into a food garden then the book, I’d suggest is Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture by Toby Hemenway. It is published by Chelsea Green, 2001, and has a foreword by John Todd.

Garden Experiment: Polytunnel

An associate of mine, back in Campbellton, helped me construct, actually he did most of the work, this season extending polytunnel.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

What is a Seed Library?

seed library lends or shares seed. It is distinguished from a seed bank in that the main purpose is not to store or hold germplasm or seeds against possible destruction, but to disseminate them to the public which preserves the shared plant varieties through propagation and further sharing of seed.

Do you have a seed library in your community?

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Bees & Us.

I often comment that gardeners are not alone when gardening. This is a fundamental fact. Understanding what it means is the key to great gardens.
A thriving garden depends upon the interactions between gardeners, soil, sun, water, pollinators, birds, as well as a very long list of garden friends, including worms and spiders.
The best-known garden helper may well be the honey bee. A honey bee will pull more than its weight when it comes to the garden.
Over the past few years it has become obvious that honey bees are being threatened. Excessive use of synthetic chemicals is suspected.
The home gardener can help the pollinators. Plan the planting to include pollinator attracting plants. Perennial herbs and self-seeding annuals offer many choices. Also use organic fertilizer and natural means for other garden maintenance chores.
Why the concern over bees? The bees do more than making honey which by itself is a major industry. Honey bees pollinate millions of dollars worth of crops countrywide and their disappearance could cause serious economic damage.

Home gardeners can help by creating gardens or adding plants to their existing gardens that will attract honey bees. How do you recognize a honey bee? Honey bees are hairy, about 1.25 centimetres or 5/8” long and have black and yellow stripes on their abdomens.
The honey bees have made a slight comeback but a serious threat still remains. Not only is the honey bee in danger but the bumblebee, a native bee, is also at task, more about the bumblebee next time.
In Campbellton, if you want more information about how you can help the bees and other pollinators, visit the Campbellton Bee City Facebook page.
The Bee Garden
Seed Suggestions, sweet alyssum, coriander, dill, tansy, corn poppies, and white yarrow.
1.  Add plants to the border of an existing garden bed; simply pick the plants that best match your existing design.
2.  Create a bee garden. Strategically place the bee garden far from the back door. This is to let the bees do their thing.  This should keep them from buzzing around you while you are enjoying the yard.
3.  Sow small amounts of each seed type that you have selected on a well-prepared soil. Follow the instructions on the package for sowing.
4.  Gently water the seeds and be sure to keep the ground moist during the first month or so.
5.  Enjoy, you can pick the herbs and flowers for your own use as long as you leave some for the bees.
There are other insects known as beneficial insects that help your garden grow. A healthy vibrant and productive garden is a place alive with a wide variety of spiders, insects, and birds for example.
The hum and buzz of your backyard will tell you that all is as it should be and your garden is part of nature not an island that has been isolated and struggling to thrive. Next week, the bumblebee and a closer look at pollination, until then happy gardening.

Podcast Coming soon

I am working on a podcast, working title "We Are Nature Working" I will talk about the many issues facing us from climate catastro...